Open to the Public
Lake County, 35 miles north of Two Harbors, MN
Why the Conservancy Selected This Site
The Sand Lake/Seven Beavers area is a vast virtually unfragmented ecosystem challenged by a mixed ownership. This mixture of ownership offers The Conservancy an excellent opportunity to work with partners to coordinate forest management and conservation, protecting a substantial portion of the region's remaining lowland conifer forest.
The Conservancy's property is essentially the only private property in the core of the area. The Sand Lake/Seven Beavers site also contains other protected and managed lands, including a state Scientific & Natural Area, U.S. Forest Service National Forest lands, state forest lands, and forests managed by St. Louis County and Lake County Land Departments. The Conservancy is actively working with these landowners in order to develop a collaborative approach to forest management and conservation in the Sand Lake/Seven Beavers area. The Collaborative Team recently completed an Ecosystem Analysis (PDF, 2.89 MB) to prioritize restoration needs. The Conservancy is contracting with Blandin Paper Company for forest management planning and ecological classification services. The Conservancy will retain Sand Lake/Seven Beavers as private property and continue its tradition of local recreational use.
What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing
The Sand Lake/Seven Beavers area harbors one of the state's largest areas of lowland conifers and associated habitat. Rare plants such as Michaux's sedge, and sensitive aquatic communities such as the Sand Lake peatlands are among the highlights of this landscape. A unique feature of these acres is their position at the headwaters of the St. Louis River. According to ecologists, the undisturbed quality of the wetland habitats here elevates their importance to native species and ecosystems in the Arrowhead and Great Lakes. In addition, the lowland conifer ecosystem, with large unfragmented wetlands and numerous rare plant species, is unusual within the Superior Mixed Forest ecoregion and Great Lakes.
What to See: Plants
Where soils are nutrient poor, plants must find other ways to collect elements essential for life. At Sand Lake/Seven Beavers Preserve plants that acquire scarce nutrients through predation are on display. Pitcher plants are the easiest insectivorous plant to spot. Look for their liquid holding leaves shaped like a pitcher of water. The liquid inside is mixture of enzymes that attracts and digests insects trapped within the vessel.
What to See: Animals
Mammal highlights from the Northern coniferous forest include moose, wolves, bear, pine marten, fisher, lynx and bobcat. There are many species of warblers, sparrows, waterfowl, and raptors that nest or migrate through the area. Some year round avian residents include the spruce grouse, Northern goshawk, raven, boreal chickadee, gray jay, red crossbill, and white winged crossbill.
Sand Lake/Seven Beavers is owned more for habitat protection and management purposes than for public visitation. If you do decide to visit winter is the best time to explore by hiking, cross-country skiing, or snow-shoeing. Keep in mind that this is a vast landscape. Between mining railroads to the North, South, and West, and County Road 2 to the east there are 70 square miles without driveable roads. So, dress appropriately and always carry a compass. This preserve is open to public hunting.
For more information on visiting this and other Minnesota preserves, check out our Preserve Visitation Guidelines.
From Two Harbors, take County Road 2 approximately 35 miles to the public access on Greenwood Lake. Proceed north on County Road 2 for 2.8 miles. Turn left onto the old logging road and park. For the first mile this trail travels through Conservancy property, and the next 5 miles a network of old winter logging roads takes you through a mix of Conservancy, Superior National Forest, Finland State Forest and Lake County ownership (the latter three are all public property). You may also park at the public access site and walk across County Road 2. Follow the winding trail southwest for ¼ mile until you come to an old winter logging road that runs northwest. This road passes through a mix of Conservancy and Superior National Forest ownership. (The patchy ownership in this area makes it a challenge to find and stay on Conservancy land.)